Have you woken yourself up with your own coughing? Has someone close to you kicked you to the couch because of nighttime coughing that’s disturbing the whole house? The answer to the question, “Can you cough in your sleep?” is very simple; the answer is “Yes!”
You can cough and sneeze in your sleep, but only in light sleep. You’ll awaken briefly to cough or sneeze, and you may not notice that you were awake. Nighttime c
oughing can have any number of causes, but did you know that there’s a connection between dental issues and nighttime coughing?

young adult woman sleeping on the couch

Your mouth, throat, and lungs all work together to keep you healthy and breathing normally so poor oral hygiene and other dental problems may contribute to a cough that’s disrupting your sleep. If you are struggling with a nighttime cough and have been to a medical doctor to no avail, you may want to talk to your Aberdeen, North Carolina general dentist about your cough. Poor oral hygiene and other dental problems invite bacteria to migrate from your mouth to your lungs; this can lead to a persistent, nagging cough that seems to be worse at night.

Oral Hygiene’s Connection to the Lungs

Harmful bacteria live even in the most healthy mouths, but those harmful bacteria are kept in check by a healthy level of “good bacteria.” When bad bacteria numbers grow, your teeth, gums, mouth, and lungs will likely suffer. An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the mouth can cause:

  • Tooth decay
  • Cavities
  • Inflamed gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Unexplained cough

The migration of oral bacteria from the mouth to the lungs can also contribute to pneumonia and emphysema. Researchers have found that there’s a clear connection between dental problems and respiratory issues, so if you’ve had a cough that cannot be explained and/or has not responded to treatment, it’s time to visit your Aberdeen, North Carolina dentist, who may be able to solve your coughing problem with some general dentistry preventative treatment and exam/cleaning.

Gum Disease, Respiratory Illness, and Nighttime Cough

Studies have shown gum disease, medically known as periodontal disease, can lead to certain respiratory conditions. Researchers discovered that people with gum disease could experience worsening symptoms of:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pneumonia
  • Emphysema

Coughing is a symptom of all of the above medical conditions. The inflammation that occurs from harmful bacteria in the body damages the respiratory system and increases the risk of developing various illnesses in the lungs, air sacs, and structures.

Caring for Your Teeth When Treating Your Cough

If you want to try some at-home treatment of your cough prior to your Aberdeen, NC dental appointment, please consider the following: cough medicines contain alcohol, which is known for drying out saliva while putting sugar and acids on your gums and teeth. Please follow these tips when caring for your cough at home:

  • Take your cough syrup with food to increase saliva production and remove sugars and acids from your mouth.
  • Look for a pill version of your preferred cough suppressant, as a pill will not stick to your teeth as thick cough syrup will.
  • Brush your teeth regularly (or even more frequently) while taking cough medicines. Saliva production decreases at night, so brush more often toward the end of your day.
  • Drink more water than normal to keep your body hydrated as it fights any infection you may have.
  • Take any over-the-counter medication as indicated on the label; be sure to ask your doctor or dentist about mixing OTC medications with any prescription drugs.

Yes, you can cough at night, and a persistent nighttime cough could be an indication of serious medical conditions. Practicing good oral hygiene and having regular checkups at your Aberdeen, NC general dentist’s office will help keep a nice balance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth and lungs.

Get Help with Nighttime Cough in Aberdeen, North Carolina

If you live in Aberdeen or a surrounding community in North Carolina, it may be time to have your nighttime cough evaluated by a dentist with experience in treating dental problems that affect the respiratory system. Please contact Kuhn Dental Associates by calling (910) 692-4450 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form, so one of our dental team members can reach out to answer questions or get you scheduled for a new patient evaluation.